Skinamarink (2022)

Director: Kyle Edward Ball
Writer: Kyle Edward Ball
Cast: Lucas Paul, Dali Rose Tetreault, Ross Paul, Jaime Hill
Seen on: 15.2.2023

4-year-old Kevin (Lucas Paul) and his 6-year-old sister Kaylee (Dali Rose Tetreault) wake up in the middle of the night to discover that their parents are gone, as are all the doors and windows from their home. They start to play and watch TV, but the longer this goes on, the more unsettling it gets.

Skinamarink is an unusual horror film that has gotten quite a bit of hype. But I couldn’t really get into it, at least not as a full-length feature film (and not even a particularly short one). Nevertheless, it’s probably worth giving it a try: maybe you’ll get into it after all.

The film poster showing Kevin (Lucas Paul) sitting on the floor in a dark hallway with a nightlight, but the picture is upside down and very grainy.

Skinamarink is a film that works with atmosphere for the most part: grainy images as if shot 40, 50 years ago in poor lighting conditions, and camera angles that often show the corner of the room, or its ceiling where nothing of note is actually happening but the flickering of the low resolution, and sounds just off-camera. It is unsettling for sure and questions our assumptions about what a horror movie looks like.

But after a while you start thinking: is that it? Does the film have nothing more to offer? Things do develop slowly, but, unfortunately, too slowly for me. By the time we get to other things, I was already pretty checked out of the film and it didn’t manage to capture my attention again.

A grainy still from the film showing a flickering TV with toys strewn in front of it.

I can definitely see the film’s appeal, and I applaud the vision of Ball who has given us a daring debut with the film. There are certainly unsettling and creepy moments. But it’s the kind of film you need to sink into, and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t go under. Instead, I started to get bored by it pretty quickly and ultimately even nodded off.

Even so, I think it’s a deeply subjective film because it plays so much with what isn’t there that you maybe need to supplement your own horror. And if that works for you, Skinamarink is certainly a horrifying experience in the best of ways. So why don’t you give it a try?

A barbie doll on a pink background. it seems to be floating just below the ceiling. The image is grainy.

Summarizing: not for me, but it could work for you.

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